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Purchase Protection: Which Credit Cards Cover Your Belongings?

Purchase Protection- Which Credit Cards Cover Your Belongings Story
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When you buy something, you’re usually on your own if the item is stolen or damaged. Most products don’t come with insurance, and when coverage is available, it typically comes at extra cost. But if you pay with your credit card, there’s a good chance you’re covered through the card’s complimentary purchase protection. 

Here’s a look at how purchase protection programs work.

What is purchase protection?

Sometimes called damage protection, purchase protection insures goods against theft or accidental damage for a limited time. Depending the credit card, the coverage amount and the duration of the protection may differ. 

Note that purchase protection is different from price protection and extended warranty coverage, other credit card benefits you might be eligible for. While extended warranty coverage offers more comprehensive damage protection, purchase protection gives you more protection in case of theft. 

>>More: Credit Card Features You Wish You Had

How to use purchase protection

To take advantage of this benefit, first review your card’s benefit statement to see whether you are eligible for reimbursement if a purchase is damaged, stolen or lost.

Keep in mind that if you have a primary insurance policy covering the item, you must file a claim there before approaching your credit card issuer to use purchase protection. 

For most claims, you’ll typically need to submit:

  • A copy of your credit card statement with the purchase.
  • An itemized receipt from the retailer showing the purchase.
  • A police report (for theft).
  • A copy of the claim settlement from your primary insurance company, if applicable.
  • A copy of your primary insurance declaration page, if applicable.
  • Any other documentation needed to substantiate your claim.

Networks’ purchase protection, compared

 Visa*MasterCard*American Express
SourceGuide to Visa Signature benefits via CapitalOneMasterCard American Express
Duration90 days120 days (90 days for NY residents)90 days
Coverage$500 per claim, $50,000 per cardholder$1,000 per claim, $50,000 per cardholder$1,000 per claim, $50,000 per year†
What's coveredTheft, damageTheft, damageTheft, damage‡
Excluded itemsSee benefits guideSee benefits guideSee terms and conditions
Gift coverageGifts are covered as long as they were purchased using an eligible cardGifts are covered as long as they were purchased using an eligible cardGifts are covered as long as they were purchased using an eligible card
Cards coveredEligible Visa Signature cardsEligible World and World Elite MasterCard cardsAll American Express cards
RegistrationPurchases are automatically eligiblePurchases are automatically eligiblePurchases are automatically eligible
Additional restrictionsCoverage is secondaryCoverage is secondaryCoverage is secondary

*Benefits may vary by issuer. Check your benefits guide for complete details.
†$10,000 per claim, $50,000 per year for the American Express® Gold CardThe Platinum Card® from American Express and Delta Reserve® Credit Card cardholders
‡American Express covers lost purchases for The Platinum Card® from American Express and Delta Reserve® Credit Card cardholders

Top cards for purchase protection

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

The ultimate shopping card, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 in purchases a year (then 1%) and 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. There are no rotating categories and there’s no need to search for special deals to get bonus cash back. What’s more, purchase protection is available for all cardholders, not just those who meet certain qualifications.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express has an annual fee of $95. The annual fee is well worth it if you use the card often; you need to spend just $31 a week at U.S. supermarkets to cover the fee. The card also offers a sign-up bonus: $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply. The downside is that American Express isn’t as widely accepted as Visa and MasterCard.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card isn’t just a stellar travel card, offering 2X points on travel and restaurant purchases. It also offers great shopping opportunities through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall, where you can earn up to 10 extra Ultimate Rewards points at a wide selection of online retailers. You can use those points to book travel on the Ultimate Rewards travel platform, where you’ll get a 20% discount on reservations.

The card also comes with a great sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

The downside is that purchase protection doesn’t come automatically with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You have to qualify for the Visa Signature program, and Visa isn’t clear on the requirements. It also comes with an $0 for the first year, then $95 after that.


The bottom line

Purchase protection offers short-term insurance for your everyday purchases, in case the items are stolen or damaged. However, the damage coverage comes with several exclusions, so you may want to see if your card also offers extended warranty coverage.

Last updated January 1, 2016. 

Ben Luthi is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @benluthi.

Image via iStock.